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Intel officially unveils full Broadwell-based Intel Core CPU lineup

A Broadwell die shot.

Chip giant Intel on Monday took the covers off if its oft-delayed fifth-generation Intel Core processor family, a revamp that includes significant efficiency improvements and is expected to sit at the heart of Apple's rumored all-new MacBook Air.

Based on the 14-nanometer "Broadwell" microarchitecture, Intel says that the new chips are "purpose-built for the next generation of compute devices." Manufacturers will have 10 new low-power, 15-watt models and 4 new 28-watt variants to choose from.

Thanks to the process shrink, the Broadwell designs pack 35 percent more transistors into a die area 37 percent smaller than their Haswell-based predecessors, which power Apple's current portable computer lineup. The changes are good for 24 percent better performance from the integrated graphics system and a 50 percent speed-up in video conversion, according to Intel.

The 15-watt processors will whip with Intel HD Graphics 5500 and 6000 graphics, while their larger siblings will come packaged with Intel's Iris 6100. Every chip will support 4K Ultra HD displays as well as Intel's new WiDi wireless display technology.

Intel promises that the performance improvements do not compromise Broadwell's focus on efficiency; devices running with the fifth-generation chips will see battery life increased by up to 1.5 hours over those with Haswell-based processors.

The update is of particular importance to Apple fans, as the company has been widely rumored to be waiting for Intel to ship Broadwell in order to begin production of a new, redesigned MacBook Air. That device —  which is thought to come in a thin, fanless form factor and sport a Retina display —  is rumored to begin production in the first quarter of this year.